I’ve interviewed five people in the last two weeks, because I’m adding to my staff. Some candidates were qualified skill-wise, but their personal brands were filled with sarcasm, skepticism and hostility. No matter what you say or what your resume has printed on it, your personal brand is going to win you or lose you the next perfect opportunity for you.
Fake it till you make it?
Not that these candidates don’t have reason to be bitter. It is a tough job market. They each had been laid off. They have been sending resumes and trying to get interviewed for months, if not longer. They were dying on the vine at home trying to get a job, rather than coming home from a job they found rewarding – if only money-wise.
Each was going through the stages of grief that losing anything puts you through. I know. If 2010 had a theme for me, other than work, life dealt an almost incalculable amount of death, illness and personal loss my way. I clung to my two remaining loved ones and lost one in the process. I kept working because I can and I must, even when I very much wanted to dwell and maybe even deal with the misery that subsumed me.
Wearing your situation differently
I’ve had years like this before. I am no stranger to really bad circumstances. I just wear it differently than most other people. My personal brand is rooted in encouragement, invention and freedom. That’s not for show or for nothing. The qualities that attract and engage clients, coach people to realize their potential, or put me in the media, are the same values that create the self-talk I hear all day long.
Here’s what I hear.
This is a new opportunity. One phone call can change everything. A rejection is the start of a great relationship – I know, I have proved it. If there’s something that cannot be done, give it to me – I’ll invent a solution and drive in the revenue. If there are 2 seconds on the clock and we are 3 points down, get the ball into my hands. Inconvenience me, I can do what I do and help you, too.
But like most people, I have no answer to the empty place at the table. I keep the nightclothes and the dog bed where I can see them. I keep up the photos and the security questions so I can reflect, even just for a moment, on my new normal.
But, this is really my secret: each loss has its own bucket of tears. They don’t all run together and form a river. That gives me time to jump on firm ground, add to what’s stable or growing, and revel in who I am now and who I am determined to be in the future.
It’s a new attitude
Because I am one of you, because I don’t live a charmed life but simply a real one: I don’t understand why you come to an interview or work angry, cynical or rude. I don’t understand why, when a friend who loves you traded on their relationship with me to introduce you, you come filled bitterness about what happened to you rather than joyful expectations about what can happen to you now.
Personal brands, I know what’s going on out there. I understand where the anxiety, fear and worry come from. Just don’t wear it to the work place, because we can’t hire you if you throw off a dark, troubled or mean vibe.
Recognize a safe harbor when you find one.
Start every new relationship with a new attitude.
Let loss have its due.
Respect what happened and still expect great things.